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The case for a single national platform for capacity building in Nigeria’s oil & gas sector

Latest technological advances in the oil and gas industry and surging demand for crude oil and natural gas are expected to continue to spur fresh…

Latest technological advances in the oil and gas industry and surging demand for crude oil and natural gas are expected to continue to spur fresh wave of investments globally. Human capital development is therefore critical for the industry to operate progressive technologies and to remain productive and competitive. To benefit from this impending investment boom in the global oil sector, some countries have realized the need to centralize human resource development initiatives so as to sustain the expansion of the skills sets required to drive innovation and future growth.

For instance, OPEC producers like Saudi Arabia have begun building a coalition of key stakeholders known as the Saudi Arabia Advanced Research Alliance (SAARA), a firstof-its-kind collaboration among industry, academia, and Saudi government entities, including state oil company Saudi Aramco geared towards human and technology development. In Nigeria, however, the lack of coherent human resource development framework could impose challenges to the country’s ability to harness the benefit of future investment expansion that will take place in the oil and gas industry.

Whereas the government is keen on particularly building indigenous human and institutional capacity, the major obstacle to realizing this objective has been the absence of an acceptable platform for the development of skills and capacities for the industry and the lack of effective coordination. Interventions in research, development of human capital which runs into billions of dollars annually are undertaken by different players based on their needs.

There is an absence of a coordinated human capacity development agenda and an acceptable database of the skills or a handbook of the educational requirements to fill identified human capacity gaps. While government agencies in the oil and gas, education and national planning sectors are all engaged in different aspects of determining education and skills requirements, private players in the industry are also doing the same to the extent of their needs and operational requirements.

Some organizations like the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Host Communities Producing Oil and Gas Nigeria (HOSTCON), Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN) have one form of capacity development programme or the other. In addition, local and international oil companies operating in the country also commit huge funds to developing indigenous capacity.

The multiplicity of capacity and manpower development initiatives in the oil sector has thus threatened or even relegated the role of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) established in 1973 as a one-stop-shop for manpower development through research and training of Nigerians in the fields of engineering, geology, geosciences, and relevant fields in the petroleum industry.

The simple argument has been that since the PTDF is the sole agency of government for capacity building in the entire oil industry, there is no need for indigenous companies and IOCs to establish independent training institutes. All these efforts and resources can be brought together under the auspices of the PTDF. A solution to this lack of parity between national education and training interventions and skills and competency requirements of the local oil and gas industry lies in the determination of a single national platform for the co-ordination of all collaborative activities geared towards the development of education and human capital by relevant players in the industry